2020, Volume 12, Special Issue 1
Sport and Tourism. Yesterday - Today - Tommorow
Eds. Dariusz Jacek Olszewski-Strzyżowski and Raluca Buhas
Establishing transboundary tourist space in the Baltic Sea region
Denis Cerić1, Marek Więckowski1
1Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences
Author for correspondence: Marek Więckowski; Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: The Baltic Sea region has been an area of intense political, economic and cultural contacts since the early Middle Ages. However, it severely suffered both during the Second World War and in its aftermath through to 1989. Since the mid-1990s, initiatives, programs and organisations promoting cooperation in this region have been put in place, and, in line with the expansion of the European Union, there have been far more opportunities (both organisational and financial) for cross-border cooperation, including in a transboundary context.
Material and methods: The main sources of data for quantitative analysis have been official reports of Interreg Programme projects in the Baltic Sea region, as given effect to in the period between 2007 and 2013. In turn, qualitative analysis has drawn on descriptions of selected projects, mainly in reports and on relevant websites.
Results: This article acquaints the reader with issues underpinning cross-border cooperation in the transboundary context of the Baltic Sea region, focusing on key aspects relating to the establishment of transboundary tourist space. Several examples of EU co-financed cross-border cooperation in tourism are also presented in greater detail.
Conclusions: The process of establishing transboundary tourist space across the Baltic Sea is seen to depend greatly on co-financing by the European Union. Such EU-backed projects serving the development of cross-border tourism in the transboundary context of the Baltic Sea region can be assigned to four groups entailing: (1) the integration of transport, (2) tourism management, (3) the generation of tourist products, and (4) the development of a regional identity. However, it is typical of these projects for cooperation in the development of tourist attractions and products to be led by entities from the more developed part of the region, which therefore receive more funding than partners’ beneficiaries from the Baltic’s less-developed part. Preliminary analysis thus suggests that EU projects may not necessarily help to even out differences, i.e. reduce disparities, between the “Old” and “New” EU, even if they may be significant in helping to combine potential.
Key words: Baltic Sea Region, cross-border cooperation, transboundary space, EU funds, tourism